Mary Maud Page, daughter of Nathaniel Page and his wife
Emily Rosa Full, spent a year at a finishing school in Paris, France, and then worked
at the Caldrons School of Art until her eyesight failed. She then took a course
in wood-carving, learnt to work with metals and enamels, became skilled in
needlework, embroidery and lace-making, and learnt braille to translate books
for a blind friend. She left for South Africa in July 1911, suffering from rheumatism,
spent a few months at Dealesville in the Free State where she used its mineral
springs, and settled in Bloemfontein early in 1912. From August that year she
spent three months in Palapye, Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana), and
then visited Pretoria, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Basutoland (now
Lesotho). In the latter country she painted landscapes, but later started
collecting and painting plants. She also inspired and helped a friend of hers,
Mrs Beaumont, to form a teaching herbarium for the school at Morija. She later
returned to Lesotho several times.
While in Cape Town in January 1915 Page showed some of her
flower paintings to Mrs H M L Bolus*, who encouraged and trained her to
illustrate plants with botanical accuracy. She became a botanical artist at the
Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape Town, late in 1915 and remained associated
with the institution until her death. The herbarium holds more than 200 of her
paintings of the genus Mesembryanthemum,
100 plants of the Cape Peninsula, and others of orchids and the family Iridaceae.
Some of these were published in the Annals
of the Bolus Herbarium, the Journal of
the Botanical Society of South Africa, in H M L Bolus's Elementary lessons in systematic botany
(1919), A G J Herre's The genera of the
Mesembryanthemaceae (1971), and other publications. The genus Pagella was named after her by S.
Despite her chronic illness Page thoroughly enjoyed the
outdoors. She had a positive attitude towards life, made friends easily, and
was well-loved by everyone she met.